Alligator in Tom Otterness’ “Life Underground” at 14th Street subway stop. Image by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

This week we profile Untapped Cities contributor Tom Hynes who writes a column on animal-related New York City history from uncovering the legend of the sewer alligator, to oyster history, and the parrots of Brooklyn.

What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?

Taking boats in and around New York City is definitely an under-tapped New York City experience. The East River Ferry is the best kept secret in the city. It’s a great way to gain a new vantage point of the City, and it’s way more relaxing than almost any other form of transportation.


MTA Subway Map-Second Avenue Subway Line-Q-W Restored-NYC

Though not on the MTA website yet, the Second Avenue Subway line has been added to the subway map contained with the May 2016 MTA Board Action Items document released on Wednesday. The line is expected to open in December this year and there would be a few changes as a result, including a resurrection of the W line. Currently, the Q goes from Astoria-Ditmars Blvd to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.


Queensway-Phase One Design-Metropolitan Avenue-Metropolitan Hub-Forest Park-Rockaway Beach Branch Line-LIRR-Abandoned-Queens-NYC-017On the QueensWay, a visionary rendering done prior to start of latest design phase

We recently took a trip to explore the potential QueensWay Park site with Andy Stone, director of the New York City program of the Trust for Public Land. While we have documented this former Rockaway Beach Branch line of the Long Island Railroad on numerous occasions previously, this visit showed the unique urban access challenges of the surrounding landscape and what the QueensWay Park hopes to address through the creation of the city’s next linear park.

Yesterday, the design process for the first half-mile of the Queensway Park was announced by the Friends of the Queensway, the Trust for Public Land, and elected officials that support the project.


Paparazzi Dogs Dumbo Untapped Cities AFineLyneThe Paparazzi Dogs in Dumbo

The month of June brings to New York City more than a dozen new outdoor art installations on top of a plethora still on view from last month. June will have you swinging at Brookfield Place, sliding on Governors Island, typing your thoughts, and examining your brain waves for your most inner thoughts. You can park-hop from Randall’s Island to Foley Square, from Prospect Park to Riverside Park, and your art-walk will take you from Coney Island to Harlem with many stops in between.

Here are thirteen art installations not to miss in New York City this June:


Life carries on in the War ZonePhoto by Mel Rosenthal/Museum of the City of New York

In the 1970s and 1980s, the South Bronx was slowly brought to ruin by industrialization, trash dumping and arson. But photographer Mel Rosenthal wanted to show another side of the notorious borough. “In the South Bronx of America” is a new exhibit displayed in the Museum of the City of New York, featuring photos taken by Rosenthal. The series of black and white photographs depicts the state of life of everyday people South Bronx, which includes the neighborhood of Morrisania where Rosenthal grew up.


Penn Station-Vintage Photograph-McKim Mead White-Train Station-Remnants-Tour-NYCThe former McKim, Mead and White Penn StationStation

Monday, May 30th

Amongst the slew of Memorial Day activities (both holiday related and more off-the-beaten path) you can find in our separate guide, Manhattanhenge will take place at 8:12pm. See more details on this twice-yearly phenomenon here.

Wednesday, June 1st

For five consecutive days, Grammy Award-winning folk comedy duo Flight of the Conchords (aka Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie) will perform “Flight of the Conchords sing Flight of the Conchords Tour” at the McKittrick Hotel.

Located where the Persian Room, a once legendary nightclub, played host to such formidable acts as Bob Hope, Kay Thompson, Bob Fosse and Liza Minnelli, The Rose Club walls have listened in on many unforgettable moments in music and entertainment history. During the Persian Room’s 41 year run, modern jazz made a spectacular debut with a stellar cast of performers including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Billie Holiday. Join in a performance of live jazz music performed by the Kat Gang.

Thursday, June 2nd

June 2nd is the last day to view Picasso’s “Le Tricorne” at the New-York Historical Society. Picasso was commissioned to paint the tapestry for the ballet of the same name by Sergei Diaghilev, and it was displayed in the Four Seasons Restaurant for 55 years. The artwork is the centerpiece of a bigger exhibit, featuring related works from the Society’s collection and special loans to complement the work. Tickets for the exhibit are included in the admission to the museum and can be purchased here.

The Brooklyn Museum will hold its 4th annual Sackler Center First Awards, honoring women who have broken gender barriers to achieve something first in their fields. This year’s awards and dinner, presented by Elizabeth Sackler and Gloria Steinem, honor Angela Davis, a political activist, scholar and author influential to the Civil Rights movement. New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will give special remarks. Past honorees include Toni Morrison, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Connie Chung and Miss Piggy. To purchase tickets for the awards ceremony and/or dinner, email firstawards@brooklynmuseum.org or call 718-501-6589.

Friday, June 3rd

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden is hosting an Artisanal Cider Tasting event. This 21 and over event is co-sponsored by City Wine Gallery and Miso Hoppy Craft Beers. Try ciders from a number of different local and international suppliers, including Sarene Craft Beer Distributors, Skurnik Wines and Spirits, Domaine Pacory Poire Ciders and Opici Imports. Get tickets for the tasting here or call the museum at 212-838-6878.

The New Taste of the Upper West Side – Summer in the City: Surf and Turf returns this year with summer surf and turf favorites. 45 participating restaurants will bring their best summer dishes to this food and wine fundraiser, including Momofuku Milk Bar, The Meatball Shop, Jacob’s Pickles, Shake Shack, AG Kitchen and more. The event is hosted by celebrity chefs Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli. Other chefs and culinary heavyweights will also be in attendance. The net proceeds go to the local community for neighborhood improvement and beautification projects such as the Columbus Avenue BID’s Sustainable Streetscape project, Theodore Roosevelt Park, Wellness in the Schools nutritional program, Greenhouse Classroom, Citymeals-on-Wheels and other beneficiaries. Get tickets here.

Saturday, June 4th

Come join Untapped Cities for a Wine Tasting and Tour at Rooftop Reds, The World’s First Rooftop Garden at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The technology used to sustain the vineyard is an urban planter system that was developed in cooperation with Cornell University and Finger Lakes industry leaders. Enjoy an array of wines with a great view on the 14,800 square foot rooftop. You must be 21 and older to attend this event. Get tickets for the event below.

Sunday, June 5th

The Bialystoker Synagogue Tour is hosted by Untapped Cities, in partnership with the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy. Get an inside look at a synagogue that is usually off-limits to the public. Bialystoker was built in 1826 as the Willet Street Episcopal Church, but later was converted to a place for Jewish worship. In addition to touring the synagogue, you will also get the opportunity to walk through the streets of Historical East Broadway to see historical landmarks like the Henry Street Settlement, Seward Park and the exterior of the Beth Hamedrash Hagol, once home to the first and largest Russian Jewish Orthodox congregation in the United States.

Tour the remnants of Penn Station with Untapped Cities, and discover the past, present and future of the railroad. On the Penn Station Tour, lead by tour guide Justin Rivers, learn of the little known secrets of the station, including never-before published photographs of the station at its peak and demolition. Go on the hunt for the remaining pieces of the McKim, Mead and White stations, and explore the surrounding buildings of the station in depth. Learn secrets of how to navigate Penn Station like a pro, from the best places to enter and exit the station to learning how to beat the rush on the Amtrak concourse. Purchase tickets for this event below.

Check out our full list of Untapped Cities Behind the Scenes tours.